(image borrowed from Ohio Star Ball website).
So, what did you guys think about the show?
I was worried I’d be mad about the new format but I really ended up thinking this one worked better, at least for TV, even if it is fake. For people who’ve never been to a regular ballroom dance competition before, the competition is really the first parts, the group dances (as shown in the picture above) — that they severly truncated here, showing only a small part of one dance for each of the four categories. But I do think the showdances work so much better for TV. On TV the excitement of the group dances is really lost. But it’s so stunning to see, to feel, all these couples whizzing by you, spinning, shaking their hips at lightening speed, to hear the crowds cheer, scream really, while all the couples try to look so glamorous and graceful, the raucous audience making it seem more like a boxing match. I encourage everyone who hasn’t been to go to a real competition.
Anyway, it wasn’t much of a surprise that Riccardo Cocchi and Yulia Zagoruychenko won — they’re second in the world in Latin, and I’m wondering, after watching them in November (which is when this show was taped), if they could overtake the current champs, Poland’s Michael Malitowski and Joanna Leunis, at some point. I loved their Cha Cha tonight (with her in the sizzling red and him in the open tux jacket), their Samba, and their combo routine to the pure percussion (which I love — I love that they’re not afraid to use that kind of music). I love how they vary the rhythms in an often unpredictable way, I love his speed and how she makes original shapes with her body, especially when she tucks in her stomach, rolls her shoulders, and curls her pelvis, looking almost like a cobra. Or is it a python? The snake that lifts its front part and expands its head, ghost-like, before attacking?… (I don’t really want to do a google image search) Anyway, I really really love them– Yulia and Riccardo.
Since the two top Standard couples — Arunas Bizokas and Katusha Demidova and Victor Fung and Anna Mikhed — were at another competition (I think in the U.K.) at the same time as the Ohio Star Ball and didn’t compete, it was really a toss up who would win. I thought Linas Koreiva and Liene Apale would win — I thought they danced the best — though I loved the balletic look to Mikhail Avdeev and Anastasia’s beautiful waltz. I love how in all their routines
— oooh, Oscar Hijuelos (one of my favorite writers, author of Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love) is on Larry King, PBS! He is WAY the hell younger than I thought… —
sorry, just had to say that. Anyway, I love how Mikhail and Anastasia’s dances were all basic, yet so well done, so beautifully executed. Shows how dance is more about excellent technique and lush, expansive movement than tricks. And I love that they used classical music instead of going for the modern and poppy.
Totally predictable of course that Joanna Zacharewicz and Jose DeCamps would win Rhythm — and how much do I love that there are Joses in the world — how hot was that mambo! And that John Travolta! He is truly one of the most charismatic dancers in all of ballroom.
And Jonathan Roberts and Valentina were lovely. I do believe she is the powerhouse of that partnership. She really shines and her form is so splendid. His is less so (and I caught him pigeon-toed a few times), though he is a solid support for her, which is mainly what the man is supposed to be. I liked J.T. Thomas and Tomasz Mielnicki’s snazzy Foxtrot, though I’ve seen both couples in competition before and can see how Jonathan and Valentina took the whole without winning the showdance portion.
Oh, before I forget, what did you guys think of that Swan Lake dance at the beginning of the program, by Mikhail Zharinov and Galina Detkina in the American Smooth division? It was one of the very first ones, if you can remember. If you didn’t notice — and the announcers didn’t point it out — she was wearing a long white glove on her right arm, with a swan’s face and beak painted on the thumb and fingers. So, the way she was holding that arm up and bending her wrist like she did, when you see it up close (as I did at Champions of the Dance recently here in NY at Town Hall), her whole body really does look like a swan, with her hand the head, her arm the neck, and her skirt — when pulled out and held to the back (either by him or by her) — the body. I couldn’t figure out how I felt about it when I saw it live — whether I thought it was cheesy or pretty, and, after seeing it from further afar, on TV, I choose the latter.
Other things: I love my Vaidotas Skimelis Dressed as Mozart! Or was it Louis the XVI and Jurga Pupelyte Marie Antoinette? What a big fun charming goof. But an excellent dancer. Their dance was rather humorous but they still had very nice form and some creative choreography and he had some jumps and stylized runs that showed he really could be a balletic, graceful dancer, large as he is.
And why do I have no problem envisioning Boriana Deltcheva as a cat! She’s so feline already; I love the way she climbed on Delyan’s back and wrapped her legs around his waist. She’s such a tall, thin thing, she looked just like a sleek black catwoman. She has the ideal body. She put a note up on Facebook a while ago advertising that she was selling some of her costumes and I had to laugh — like everyone the planet over wishes they could fit into them
Another highlight: Gherman Mustuc and Iveta Lukosiute’s Carmen tango in the Standard. They always come up with such creative showdance ideas. Such great music, and her red dress was gorgeous.
Pavlo Barsuk and Anna Trebunskaya: how insanely intense was that Paso! I love intense Pasos! And he is the ultimate in the intensity department, believe me – -if you even see him dance live, he does this thing where his eyes grow really wide; he looks like he could devour you for lunch — or his competition anyway. Such a funny contrast to her sweet face and toothy chipmunk smile.
And of course Eugene Katsevman and Maria Manusova — sorry, I’m really into the Latins, obviously. They recently danced at the Dance Times Square showcase and I totally fell for them. He is so damn fast and slick and precise. And they ended one of their dances at the DTS show with that ending trick they did tonight in the Cha Cha, if you remember it — where he flips and drops her, catching her right before she’s about to hit the floor, face down. DTS audience went WILD.
Anyway, enough from me. What did you guys think?